Weekly News summary on Cambodia for the third week of January 2019

គណៈកម្មាធិការអចិន្ត្រៃយ៍CNRP សម្រេចឱ្យលោក សម រង្ស៊ីវិលចូលកម្ពុជាវិញ

ថ្ងៃចន្ទ ទី២១ ខែមករា ឆ្នាំ២០១៩ នួន បូរិន

Op-Ed: Women Media Center

ភ្នំពេញ៖ គណៈកម្មាធិការអចិន្ត្រៃយ៍នៃអតីតគណបក្សសង្រ្គោះជាតិ បានសម្រេចឱ្យលោក សម រង្ស៊ី វិលចូលកម្ពុជាវិញ  ដែលសេចក្ដីសម្រេចនេះ ធ្វើឡើងបន្ទាប់ពីកិច្ចប្រជុំរបស់​ថ្នាក់​ដឹកនាំ​នៃអតីតគណបក្សប្រឆាំងជួបប្រជុំគ្នានៅទីក្រុងឡូវែល (Lowell) រដ្ឋម៉ាស្សាឈូសេត (Massachusetts) សហរដ្ឋអាមេរិកកាលពីថ្ងៃទី ២១ ខែ មករា ឆ្នាំ២០១៩នេះ ។

គណៈកម្មាធិការអចិន្ត្រៃយ៍នៃបក្សនេះ បានសម្រេចជាឯកឆន្ទដោយសមាសភាព១៥ ​លើ២៤  លើ់ការវិលចូលកម្ពុជាវិញរបស់លោក សម រង្ស៊ី ដែលបច្ចុប្បន្ន​ជា​ប្រធា​ន​ស្ដី​ទីរបស់​គណ​បក្សសង្រ្គោះជាតិ។

តាមប្រសាសន៍របស់លោកអេងឆៃអ៊ាង អនុប្រធាននៃអតីតគណបក្សសង្រ្គោះជាតិ ចាត់ទុកថាការវិលមកវិញរបស់លោក សម រង្ស៊ី នឹងធ្វើឡើងតាមការសម្រេចនេះ ហើយក្រៅពីនេះ ថ្នាក់​ដឹកនាំ នឹងបន្តស្វែងរកកិច្ចអន្តរាគមន៍ថែមទៀតពីសហគមន៍អន្តរជាតិ ដើម្បីគាំទ្រយុទ្ធ​សាស្រ្ត​របស់អតីតគណបក្សសង្រ្គោះជាតិ នៅពេលលោកសមរង្ស៊ីវិល​ចូល​ប្រទេសវិញ។

រាយការណ៍ដោយលោក សោម លាភ

តាមរយៈវីដេអូផ្សាយផ្ទាល់នៅព្រឹកថ្ងៃទី ២១ ខែ មករា ឆ្នាំ ២០១៩ ធ្វើឡើងក្រោយពេលកិច្ចប្រជុំគណៈកម្មារធិការអចិន្ត្រៃយ៍របស់គណបក្សនេះបញ្ជាក់ថា កិច្ចប្រជុំនេះ ធ្វើឡើងមានការចូលរួមពីលោក សម រង្ស៊ី ប្រធានស្ដីទីនៃអតីតគណបក្សសង្គ្រោះជាតិ មន្ត្រីជាន់ខ្ពស់ ព្រមទាំងសកម្មជនគណបក្សនេះមួយចំនួន  ។

លោក អេង ឆៃអៀង ថ្លែងថា ការប្រជុំរបស់គណៈកម្មការអចិន្ត្រៃយ៍ពេញលក្ខណៈថ្ងៃនេះ ជាលើកទីមួយ របស់គណបក្សសង្គ្រោះជាតិ  ។

លោកថា គណបក្សសង្រ្គោះជាតិ គាំទ្រសហភាពអឺរ៉ុបដាក់ទណ្ឌកម្មមកលើកម្ពុជា ដើម្បីឱ្យមានការអនុវត្តតាមគោលការណ៍លទ្ធិប្រជាធិបតេយ្យនៅកម្ពុជា ។

លោកបន្ថែមថា កិច្ចប្រជុំគណៈកម្មការអចិន្ត្រៃយ៍របស់គណបក្សង្រ្គោះជាតិ ដែលកំពុងរៀបចំការចូលកម្ពុជាវិញរបស់លោក សម រង្ស៊ី ពោលគឺលោកថា គណៈកម្មាធិការអចិន្ត្រៃយ៍នៃគណបក្សនេះ បានអនុម័តកិច្ចការចំនួនប្រាំ ដែលគណបក្សនេះត្រូវធ្វើ ។

អនុប្រធានអតីតគណបក្សសង្គ្រោះជាតិរូបនេះ បញ្ជាក់ថា គណបក្សនេះមានមនុស្សសម្រាប់ទទួលខុសត្រូវលើការសម្រេចនូវកិច្ចការទាំង ៥ នេះ ។

យ៉ាងណា ការប្រកាសរៀបចំផែនការនៃការវិលចូលកម្ពុជារបស់លោក សម រង្ស៊ី នេះ សម្ដេច ហ៊ុន សែន នាយករដ្ឋមន្ត្រីកម្ពុជា ធ្លាប់បានអះអាងថា កម្ពុជាត្រៀមកម្លាំងជាស្រេចសម្រាប់ចាប់លោក សម រង្ស៊ី គ្រប់ទីកន្លែង និងគ្រប់ពេលវេលា ។ តែនៅពេលចុង​ក្រោយនេះ គឺនៅថ្ងៃទី ១៤ មករា សម្ដេចបាន បង្ហើបពីការចង់ចរចាជាមួយសហភាពអឺរ៉ុប ដើម្បីធ្វើឱ្យធូរស្រាល សភាពការណ៏នយោបាយដែលនាំអោយ គណបក្សសង្រ្គោះជាតិ អាចរស់ឡើងវិញ។ 

ស្របពេលនេះ សកម្មជនរបស់អតីតគណបក្សសង្គ្រោះជាតិនៅតាមមូលដ្ឋាន  បានបង្ហាញជំហររបស់ខ្លួនពាក់ព័ន្ធនឹងការគាំទ្រលោក សម រង្ស៊ី ធ្វើជាប្រធានស្ដីទីនៃអតីតគណបក្សសង្គ្រោះជាតិ ហើយក៏ស្វាគមន៍លោកចូលមកកម្ពុជាយ៉ាងឱឡារឹកផងដែរ ។

អ្នកវិភាគថា ប្រសិនបើលោក សម រង្ស៊ី វិលចូលកម្ពុជា អាចនឹងមានច្រកចេញនយោបាយកម្ពុជាឱ្យធូរស្បើយឡើងវិញ ។ លោក សម រង្ស៊ី ធ្លាប់នីរទេសខ្លួនពីការចាប់ខ្លួន ចំនួន៤លើកមកហើយ ។ តែមុនលោក ចូលកម្ពុជា វិញ លោកតែងតែ ទទួលបានការបើកភ្លើងខៀវពីសម្ដេចនាយករដ្ឋមន្រ្តី និងការលើកលែងទោស ដោយព្រះមហាក្សត្រ ។

កាលលោកវិលមកវិញ នៅថ្ងៃ​ទី ១៩ កក្កដា ឆ្នាំ២០១៣ គឺមុនមួយសប្ដាហ៍នៃការបោះឆ្នោតសភានីតិកាលទី៥ គឺជា​ឆន្ទួៈរបស់លោកផ្ទាល់ តែក្រោយបន្តិចមានការលើកលែងទោស ដោយព្រះមហាក្សត្រ ។ កាលវិលវិញរបស់លោកសមរង្ស៊ីនៅពេលនោះ មានអ្នកគាំទ្រ ជិតមួយលាននាក់មក​ទទួលលោក ។ តាមអ្នកវិភាគ លោកសមរង្ស៊ី វិលមកវិញ ទំនងលោកចង់បង្ហាញ ឆន្ទៈ​លោក​ជាថ្មីទៀតដោយសង្ឃឹមថា នឹងអ្នកគាំទ្រមកទទួលលោកដូចឆ្នាំ២០១៣ ។ តែបែបនេះក្ដី អាជ្ញាធរកម្ពុជា ដូចជាអ្នកនាំពាក្យ ក្រសួងមហាផ្ទៃធ្លាប់​ព្រមានការ​អនុវត្តទោស ចាប់ខ្លួនលោកសមរង្ស៊ី បើអ្នកនយោបាយ ដែលលោកខាងលិចគាំទ្ររូបនេះ វិលចូលកម្ពុជាមែននោះ ៕

អត្តបទដោយ៖ សោម លាភ

Hun Sen turns to China as Cambodia-EU relations cool

Op-Ed: RFI Issued on 20-01-2019 Modified 20-01-2019 to 15:36

Cambodia’s Prime Minister Hun Sen has begun a four-day visit to China amidst cooling relations with Brussels. China is a long-term backer of Cambodia, supporting it against Vietnam under Khmer Rouge rule, and more recently it is interested in Cambodia’s strategic position in southeast Asia.

Hun Sen’s arrival in Beijing on Sunday came just days after the EU reinstated “normal” customs duty on rice imports from Cambodia. As of 18 January, it will pay 175 euros per tonne, to be reduced progressively over three years. 

Before this weekend, Cambodia benefitted from the EU’s Everything But Arms (EBA) trade scheme, which grants duty-free access to the world’s least developed countries.

The European Commission found that increased imports of Cambodian Indica rice had caused economic damage to the rice sector in Europe, represented by eight southern European countries from Portugal to Bulgaria.

Rice imports from Cambodia and Myanmar rose from 9,000 tonnes in 2012 to 360,000 tonnes in 2017, causing a collapse of rice prices.

Human rights

The EU also strongly criticises Cambodia’s human rights record after its Supreme Court dissolved the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party.

In China, Hun Sen may find a more suitable partner.

On the diplomatic field, China adheres to a strict “non-interference” in third countries’ “internal affairs,” and is unlikely to complain about Cambodia’s human rights situation.

And in trade, Beijing’s rice imports may make up for possible losses caused by the EU’s re-imposition of tariffs.

With 1.4 billion mouths to feed, China is the worlds’ largest rice importer, with $1.8 billion worth of imports in 2017.

Cambodia’s rice exports to China were already exploding, up 431 percent since 2013, with exports worth $101 million in 2017, making it China’s third largest rice importer.

Belt and Road benefits

Meanwhile Cambodia, strategically located on the Indo-Chinese peninsula, is an attractive location for Chinese companies to invest in projects that are part of the “Belt and Road” project, a trillion-dollar infrastructural project that spans from South-East Asia to Djibouti.

Last Monday, Hun Sen attended the opening ceremony of Phnom Penh’s third ring road – a 53 kilometre, $273 million project partly backed by Chinese government funding.

Cambodia Events of 2018

Op-Ed: Human Rights Watch

In anticipation of national elections in July 2018, the government of Prime Minister Hun Sen and his Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) intensified its onslaught on the political opposition, civil society groups, and independent media. In late 2017, the CPP-controlled Supreme Court dissolved the main opposition party, the Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP). Former opposition leader Sam Rainsy remained in exile after being convicted on politically motivated charges, while party chief Kem Sokha was jailed for nearly a year on dubious charges and has since been under house arrest. The CPP, facing no major opposition party, won all 125 seats in the National Assembly, effectively creating a one-party state. Hun Sen, in power since 1985, announced he wants to be the world’s longest-serving leader in history.

Cambodia’s politicized and corrupt judiciary continued to target individuals for peacefully criticizing the government, including online. During 2018, large numbers of opposition party members and activists fled the country to avoid arbitrary arrest. The number of political prisoners rose to more than 30 in July 2018, but 16 were released after the election on royal pardons sought by Hun Sen to deflect international criticism of the elections.

Media freedoms, already under pressure, collapsed in 2018. Threatening a massive, bogus tax bill, the government coerced the owners of the highly regarded Phnom Penh Post to sell to a Malaysian businessman with reportedly close ties to Hun Sen, making future critical reporting unlikely. By the end of 2018, Cambodia no longer had any local independent newspapers or radio and TV channels. Social media also came under assault, with criminal charges filed for posts to Facebook critical of the government.

The government frequently resorted to repressive laws, such as the Law on Associations and Non-Governmental Organizations (LANGO), to arbitrarily restrict the activities of human rights organizations and silence them. Democratic space in Cambodia has reached its lowest level since before the intervention over 25 years ago by the international community through the United Nations Transitional Authority in Cambodia (UNTAC), established to facilitate the implementation of the 1991 Paris Peace Accords. UNTAC assisted in ending the Cambodian civil war, created an environment conducive for civil society, and established a state that pledged to uphold democracy, rule of law, and human rights.

Attacks on Human Rights Defenders

On January 4, 2018, a Phnom Penh investigating judge charged labor rights advocate Moeun Tola, director of the Center for Alliance of Labor and Human Rights (CENTRAL); free media advocate Pa Nguon Teang, director of the Cambodian Center for Independent Media (CCIM); and social activist Venerable But Buntenh, a Buddhist monk, with embezzlement in retaliation for being members of the funeral committee for Kem Ley, a popular political commentator who was assassinated in 2016. In July, the charges were dropped against Moeun Tola under pressure from global apparel brands, but charges remained against the two others at time of writing.

On August 20, the king pardoned longtime land rights activist Tep Vanny after two years in prison for protesting for justice in a land dispute involving a Chinese company granted a concession in Phnom Penh’s Boeung Kak Lake community. However, immediately afterwards, a court convicted her of making death threats in what started out as an internal community dispute in 2012. While the complainant had dropped her lawsuit, the prosecutor decided to pursue it on his own accord, leading to Tep Vanny and five other Boeung Kak Lake community members being sentenced to six months’ imprisonment; the judge suspended the sentence for five years.

The courts also proceeded with cases against other activists. On September 26, a Phnom Penh court convicted five former and current senior staff members of the Cambodian Human Rights and Development Association (ADHOC) of bribery of a witness, in a case that was widely criticized as being politically motivated, and imposed a five-year suspended prison sentence. An investigating judge had released them on bail in June 2017 after 427 days in pretrial detention.

Attacks on Political Opposition

Elections on July 29 were fundamentally flawed, denying Cambodians their right to freely choose their representatives. In addition to dissolving the CNRP, the Supreme Court-imposed a ban on 118 senior CNRP members from all political activity for five years.

Other serious problems with the electoral process included a lack of fair and equal access to the media; a pro-government national election commission; and surveillance, intimidation, detention, and politically motivated prosecution of key opposition members. The CPP based its crackdown on unsubstantiated claims that the CNRP intended to lead a “color revolution” to overthrow the government.

The CNRP’s founder Sam Rainsy and other leading opposition figures remained in exile to avoid enforcement of threatened prosecutions and pending prison sentences. His successor as leader of the CNRP, Kem Sokha, was detained for one year on bogus treason charges, before being released on bail in September and placed under house arrest.

CNRP lawmaker Um Sam An was royally pardoned and released on August 25, 2018, after having spent over two years in prison for an incitement conviction that arose out of his accusations against the government that the Cambodia-Vietnam border had been wrongfully demarked. On May 20, the appeals court upheld the conviction of 11 CNRP activists for “insurrection.” The 11 had already served three years of their 7 to 20-year prison terms on baseless charges for a 2014 demonstration in Phnom Penh, in which police were attacked after security forces assaulted peaceful protesters. On August 28, all 11, plus three more CNRP activists who had been sentenced separately on the same charges, were pardoned and released.

Media Freedom

The government further curtailed freedom of media, including online publications. In May 2018, the government coerced the sale of the last independent local newspaper, the Phnom Penh Post, to a Malaysian businessman with reported ties to the Cambodian government by leveling the newspaper with a questionable unpaid tax bill of US$3.9 million. The Post, along with the previously shuttered local independent newspaper, the Cambodia Daily, had long provided investigative reporting frequently critical of the government.

On August 21, two former Radio Free Asia (RFA) journalists, Yeang Sothearin and Uon Chhin, were released on bail. They had been arbitrarily arrested on November 14, 2017, on fabricated espionage charges for allegedly having continued to report for RFA after the closure of RFA’s Cambodia office. The two remain under surveillance and on September 18, 2018, the Supreme Court ruled that the judicial investigation against them would continue.

On August 31, after 14 months of pretrial detention, an Australian filmmaker was convicted on trumped-up espionage charges and sentenced to six years in prison. He received a royal pardon on September 21, and was deported to Australia soon after.

Social media networks faced increased government surveillance and interventions. On May 28, the government issued a national decree, allowing the Ministries of Interior, Information, and Posts and Telecommunications to take down content on social media outlets and websites that the government deems to be “incitement, breaking solidarity, discrimination and willfully creating turmoil that undermines national security, public interest and social order.”

New Repressive Laws

In March 2018, the government introduced a new lese majeste (insulting the monarchy) provision into Cambodia’s penal code, with a punishment of up to five years in prison and a $2,500 fine. Two months later, authorities arrested two people under the provision, who remained in detention at time of writing.

A series of repressive new laws and amendments were passed in 2018 that further restricted freedom of association. These included amendments to articles 34 and 42 of Cambodia’s Constitution to require that every Cambodian “defend the motherland” and empower the government to take action against political parties if they do not “place the country and nation’s interest first.” The repressive and controversial amendments to Cambodia’s Law on Political Parties, allowing for the arbitrary dissolution of political parties and the banning of party leaders without due process, remained in place.

Key International Actors

The United States responded to attacks on the opposition and an increasingly repressive environment for elections by ending all electoral assistance and suspending other assistance programs amounting to $8.3 million. Ahead of the elections, the US State Department imposed new visa restrictions against Cambodian officials responsible for “anti-democratic” actions.

On June 12, 2018, the US Treasury Department imposed Global Magnitsky Act sanctions against the head of Hun Sen’s bodyguard unit, Hing Bun Hieng, for being the leader of an entity involved in serious human rights abuses. On July 25, US Congress passed the Cambodia Democracy Act to impose “sanctions on all members of Hun Sen’s inner circle for their role in undermining democracy in Cambodia and committing serious human rights violations.” The UN special rapporteur on Cambodia and the UN high commissioner for human rights also expressed concern about the elections.

After the dissolution of the CNRP, Sweden—Cambodia’s longest-standing Western donor—stopped new state-to-state development aid, except in the areas of education and research. The European Union and its member states, South Korea, Australia, and other democratic countries cut election assistance and/or did not send election observers. Several countries condemned the elections as falling far short of international standards.

In February, the EU’s 28 foreign ministers threatened targeted sanctions and the suspension of trade preferences in response to the government’s crackdown on rights. In July, the European Commission deployed a mission to Cambodia to assess the country’s compliance with its human rights obligations. In September, the European Parliament reiterated its strong concerns over the human rights situation, calling on the commission to report on the mission’s findings. EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström notified Cambodia in October that the EU was launching its procedure for withdrawal of the trade preferences.

Japan, which is competing with China for influence in Cambodia, maintained its $7.5 million electoral support. A week before the election, it decided not to deploy official election observers. In February, Japan said it would provide $168 million in development aid in 2018.

China, despite its own lack of competitive elections, sent election observers and praised the elections. China was the biggest aid donor of Cambodia in 2018. In June, China provided more than $100 million in military aid to Cambodia. Under China’s “One Belt, One Road” initiative, Cambodia has received about $5.3 billion in investment and loan agreements between 2013 and 2018. China is pledging another $7 billion in new projects. Cambodia’s public external debt was at $9.6 billion by 2017 and may rise to $17 billion by 2020.

In January 2018, China’s Foreign Ministry announced that bilateral trade would reach $6 billion by 2020. China has sought to expand its political influence and economic power in Cambodia amid Cambodia’s dwindling support from Western governments. Cambodia has supported China’s territorial claims to the Spratly Islands in Southeast Asia’s regional dispute over the South China Sea.

Cambodia’s ‘quiet king’ must find his political voice

Sawathey Ek

By SAWATHEY EK JANUARY 15, 2019 5:15 AM (UTC+8)

Op-Ed: Asia Time

The recent abdication of Malaysia’s Sultan Muhammad V after his controversial marriage to a 25-year-old Russian beauty queen has raised questions about the moral authority and responsibilities of Cambodia’s King Norodom Sihamoni.

Seasoned Southeast Asia observers are asking whether the Cambodian ruler could be the next monarch to abdicate. There is growing speculation about whether he can realistically remain at the helm of the one-party state controlled by Prime Minister Hun Sen for the last 33 years.

Cambodia was recently declared an authoritarian state by the European Parliament after the major opposition party was banned in 2017. A 2015 Human Rights Watch (HRW) report states that Hun Sen has repeatedly used political violence, repression and corruption to remain in power for three decades.

While both monarchies are members of ASEAN, the abdication of Malaysia’s sultan offers an opportunity to examine regional politics and alliances more closely. Malaysia’s nine Malay state rulers elect a king among themselves every five years, usually on a rotational basis. But Sultan Muhammad’s resignation comes just two years after he ascended to the post in December 2016.

The “silent” king

If Malaysia’s 15th king can abdicate to protect his monarchy over a personal matter, should Cambodia’s monarch continue to reign in silence over an authoritarian state that was created in contravention of a multilateral agreement, the 1991 Paris Peace Accords?

The Cambodian king’s reign has seen his country go from being a faux democracy to a faux monarchy controlled by Hun Sen’s Cambodian People’s Party in both the Senate and the National Assembly in the aftermath of the forced dissolution of the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party and the 2018 general election, which was deemed flawed by the United States.

The king has been utterly silent during his entire 15-year reign, despite witnessing political chaos, illegal land-grabs, the killing of protesters and other human rights abuses, rampant patronage, and a widening gap between the rich and the poor. 

Despite a litany of crimes being committed by the regime against Cambodians, the “quiet king” has not spoken out against Hun Sen since his coronation in 2004

Despite a litany of crimes being committed by the regime against Cambodians, the “quiet king” has not spoken out against Hun Sen since his coronation in 2004. Cambodians have legitimate concerns that the king’s role – like that of the Supreme Court – is mainly to act as a mouthpiece for the ruling party. Both institutions have effectively been used to do dirty work for the regime.

While Hun Sen has been accused of using the judiciary to persecute his critics, the king can also give pardons at the prime minister’s request.

The HRW report, “30 Years of Hun Sen: Violence, Repression and Corruption in Cambodia,” describes how the prime minister rules through violence and fear. In its report, HRW urged Cambodia to undertake reforms “so that people can finally exercise their basic human rights without fear of arrest, torture, and execution.”

Instead of being a silent puppet, the king has the option of taking sides if the international community or the United Nations condemn unjust actions by the Cambodian government. But does Cambodia’s king have the moral courage to exert his authority, take responsibility and use his position to condemn the violent treatment of his people?

HRW has noted that Cambodia’s former king, Norodom Sihanouk, abdicated to “express his opposition to Hun Sen’s method of government,” resulting in the prime minister saying that the late king “would be better off dead.”

Cambodia’s “silent king,” as Norodom Sihamoni is sometimes described, seems to be a perfect tool for Hun Sen to achieve his policy of “national conciliation and stability.” According to Hun Sen, Cambodia is one “happy family” and the king’s compliance and silence provide the bedrock for Cambodia’s stable society and an economy that has been doing relatively well.

Not wanting to be seen as part of the regime, Cambodia’s monarch has often left the country to avoid signing controversial legislation into law. Instead, a representative does his job for him.

Sebastian Strangio, author of Hun Sen’s Cambodia, said that while the previous king used trips abroad as opportunities to make political statements, “Sihamoni, on the other hand, has usually acquiesced to signing controversial laws.”

Free speech is effectively outlawed

During King Sihamoni’s reign, many draconian laws have been passed. For example, the lese-majeste law allows the Cambodian government to file charges against anyone suspected of insulting the monarchy, including media outlets.

Rhona Smith, the UN special rapporteur on human rights in Cambodia, described the law as incompatible with the country’s obligations under international human rights law, as it criminalizes the legitimate exercise of free speech.

In 2017, a law dissolving and banning all opposition parties was passed and another recent law bans designated political activists. The king stands accused of being complicit.

The HRW report described the role of international donors as essential for the Hun Sen regime’s survival, as is the monarchy. Entrenched in Cambodia’s history since the pre-Angkor Wat era, the monarchy has always been respected by Cambodians. But as modern Cambodia is now an authoritarian state, the monarchy cannot be absolved of responsibility.

Hun Sen regularly abuses and insults Cambodia’s monarchy, while most Cambodians look up to their king and show him the greatest respect. Even if the king signed a law taking away the rights of Cambodia’s three million voters, few would dare to publicly denounce him.

Recently, a voice message in which Hun Sen is heard ordering the owner of a TV network to fire its chief executive was released. Hun Sen was heard telling his minion: “Even if you are the mother or the father of the king, if I want to do it, I will do it. I can handcuff an opposition party leader in the middle of the night easily. You should know who Hun Sen is.”

If Cambodia had a genuine monarchy like Malaysia or Thailand, that remark would have resulted in Hun Sen being charged with breaking the lese-majeste law that his own government enacted, supposedly to prevent people from making disrespectful remarks about the royal family.

Hun Sen’s message shows what many already knew – he is above Cambodia’s ancient monarchy. After all, the king’s mother regularly shares center stage and appears alongside Hun Sen’s wife, Bun Rany, who has allegedly abused her Red Cross position while on “humanitarian” missions.

But this is Cambodia’s monarchy, and like the entire country, it is largely ruled and owned by Hun Sen and his tycoons. The entire political and social system is being controlled by Hun Sen with military support supplied by Vietnam, while China splashes its cash to strengthen Hun Sen’s pillars – including the monarchy.

Malaysia’s former sultan’s decision to abdicate in order to ensure the survival of its monarchy is admired by people, but the Cambodian king’s personal reputation and the monarchy itself will continue to be ridiculed as long as he is cozy with the Hun Sen regime.

Visit of Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Dr. Joseph H. Felter to Cambodia

Op-Ed: US Embassy in Cambodia. Visit of Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Dr. Joseph H. Felter to Cambodia


Joseph H. Felter, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for South and Southeast Asia, Department of Defense

Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for South and Southeast Asia Dr. Joseph H. Felter will visit Cambodia January 15-16, 2019. DASD Felter will meet with Ministry of National Defense Secretary of State General Neang Phat to discuss a shared vision of a free and open Indo-Pacific region, and how a productive military-to-military relationship can help Cambodia maintain its sovereignty free from coercion, to ensure the country’s peace, prosperity, and independence for future generations. He will then discuss a path forward for enhancing military-to-military cooperation, when the Cambodian government makes progress on strengthening institutions and implementing reforms, including by dropping all charges against Kem Sokha and allowing civil society and media to operate freely.

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